Phat Pack invites you into its circle, song after song


The Phat Pack is maybe what you’d imagine if Broadway singers came and did a show in your living room. There’s going to be an element of fun to it, but you are still going to sit up straight and not chatter while the guy from “Les Miz” sings “Bring Him Home” right there in front of you.

It’s the Phat Pack, not the Rat Pack. A cabaret show, not a lounge act.

Relax. This is a good thing. You might wish these cats would go off script and loosen up a little, but there is nothing else like what they are doing on the Strip.

And you can still drink, even if there is no booze cart for them. This former Bally’s buffet is conducive to happy hour, with its big picture windows showing you a Las Vegas sunset behind the small stage that leaves little separation from the big voices in front of you.

Randal Keith, Bruce Ewing and Kevan Patriquin all blend those voices into a piano-backed showcase that’s perfect for musical theater buffs, even if it sneaks in more original or obscure songs than Broadway standards.

Keith Thompson, the offstage composing partner in this team of former “Phantom” performers from The Venetian, helps the trio explain themselves in song up top: “We are three men of the semilegitimate contemporary musical theater. … We hold those high notes extra loud and long.”

Ewing’s most high-profile Las Vegas gig was in “Forever Plaid,” and that show’s harmonized camaraderie seems to most inform the pace and tone of this Phat work. More of the jokes come within the songs than between them.

Ewing pulls up a stick pony to be Sancho to Keith’s big-voiced “Man of La Mancha.” The three sing Perry Como’s “Tina Marie” as an ode to a childhood crush on Ginger of “Gilligan’s Island,” before they remember her name is Tina Louise.

Whenever the show threatens to be too cute — as in their ode to “Men of a Certain Age” — they pull it back with the heavy drama of theatrical moments such as “Is Anybody There” from “1776.”

Keith chose that one because, he tells the audience, a high-school viewing of the movie version helped him find his calling. And that personal layer — when each of the three narrate a slide show about how they got here — is really the key to why it all works.

It’s another obscure song, from the off-Broadway “Title of Show,” that explains the uncompromising charm of the effort. They’d rather be “Nine People’s Favorite Thing” than 100 people’s ninth-favorite thing.

And when in the course of this song you see on the monitors a long, locked-down video of the IHOP where they first hatched this show, you will know right then and there if you are one of the nine. Count me in.

Contact Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.